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Intercontinental GT Challenge

Spa Post-Race Notebook

Sportscar365’s post-race news and notes from the 73rd TotalEnergies 24H Spa…

Photo: Ferrari

***Ferrari became the first non-German manufacturer to win the TotalEnergies 24 Hours of Spa in the event’s GT era since 2009, when PK Carsport prevailed with a Chevrolet Corvette C6.R. Maranello’s last overall win in the race came in 2004 with BMS Scuderia Italia’s Ferrari 550 Maranello driven by Luca Cappellari, Fabrizio Gollin, Lilian Bryner and Enzo Calderari.

***Ferrari also won the Coupe du Roi, which counts points for a manufacturer’s top three cars in Pro, top two in Silver Cup and Pro-Am, and top one in Am Cup at the six, 12 and 24-hour stages.

***The race-winning No. 51 Iron Lynx Ferrari 488 GT3 Evo 2020 driven by Alessandro Pier Guidi, Nicklas Nielsen and Come Ledogar not only overcame the late-race downpour but also a puncture during Ledogar’s final stint that forced the team to pit slightly off-sequence, according to Ferrari Competizioni GT technical director Ferdinando Cannizzo.

***Pier Guidi, Nielsen and Ledogar established a 15-point lead in the Fanatec GT World Challenge Europe powered by AWS Endurance Cup standings by leading at all three points distribution intervals on six, 12 and 24 hours. It marked the first time that a car had achieved maximum Endurance Cup points at Spa since the triple-stamp system was introduced in 2013.

***Dries Vanthoor, Charles Weerts and Kelvin van der Linde are second in the drivers’ standings, 20 points ahead of AKKA-ASP’s Jules Gounon, Raffaele Marciello and Daniel Juncadella. Erstwhile championship leaders Mathieu Jaminet, Matt Campbell and Earl Bamber have fallen to sixth after GPX Martini Racing failed to score at Spa.

***Vanthoor and Weerts, who lead the associated Sprint Cup championship, continue to set the bar in the combined GTWC Europe drivers’ classification with 48.5 points now separating the Team WRT pairing from Marciello in second.

***The No. 32 Audi’s first-hour power loss exiting La Source, which caused an early setback to its charge from 54th on the grid, was the same issue that afflicted Kelvin van der Linde in Audi machinery at the Misano Sprint Cup round and the recent Lausitzring DTM fixture. WRT sporting director Kurt Mollekens said it was fortunate that van der Linde was at the wheel when it happened at Spa:

“At least he had the experience of this thing happening, and it saved him at Lausitzring and here,” he said. “We have the control room and Audi engineers who would have been able to guide him if he was a novice driver, but it was good to have him on board.”

***Mollekens added that Vanthoor lost time to race leader Pier Guidi in the penultimate hour due to incorrect tire pressures. After WRT closed down Iron Lynx in hours 21 and 22, the gap went back out from around six seconds to just over 20 seconds before the final round of pit stops. “I think the tire pressures were a bit too low for the conditions,” said Mollekens. “On that set we didn’t quite make the right choice. On the next set we did [by taking on wet tires].”

***Jaminet described GPX Racing’s retirement as a “tough one to swallow” after the Porsche outfit — which was among the pre-race favorites — encountered steering issues in the night. Fellow Endurance Cup front-runner Dinamic Motorsport also failed to finish, with its lead No. 54 Porsche suffering from electrical issues.

***Dinamic’s 3 Hours of Monza-winning car driven by Christian Engelhart, Matteo Cairoli and Klaus Bachler spent the first few hours in the top ten, before picking up a drive-through which prompted a recovery drive that saw it reach sixth overall by halfway.

***A total of 168,133 km (104,473 miles) was collectively completed by all competitors that started the race. The winner’s lap count of 556 tours was the highest since 2013.

***Nicki Thiim set the fastest lap of the race in the Garage 59 Aston Martin Vantage GT3 on lap 304. The Danish driver clocked in at 2:18.654 with an average speed of 181.8 km/h (113 mph). Thiim, Ross Gunn and Marco Sorensen earned Aston Martin’s first 24H Spa overall podium since 2008 when Darren Turner, Philipp Peter, Andrew Thompson and Allan Simonsen also finished third in a Gigawave Motorsport-run DBR9.

***Garage 59 missed out on a podium in three different classes when its Pro-Am leading No. 188 Aston Martin developed a gearbox issue shortly before halfway.

***Axcil Jefferies said he had a “really tough” opening stint in the No. 7 Toksport WRT Mercedes-AMG GT3 Evo after being drafted into the team’s lineup as a replacement to Berkay Besler just hours before the race start. Jefferies and co-drivers Oscar Tunjo, Paul Petit and Marvin Dienst finished second in the Silver class.

“I think the first stint I went out there not knowing what to expect, no reference points,” said Jefferies, who finished second to his former Sprint Cup team Madpanda Motorsport. “It’s obviously a lot harder because you’re directly in the fight. There’s cars in front of you and behind you. So the main goal for me was to bring the car back in one piece and the guys finished the job.”

***The car that collided with the Schnabl Engineering Porsche, sending it into retirement in hour 12, was the Pro-category Orange1 FFF Racing Team Lamborghini. A stewards report published after the race informed that no party was deemed responsible for the incident at Eau Rouge, which involved Michael Christensen and Marco Mapelli during the hours of darkness.

***After a strong start, FFF’s race unraveled due to a mixture of penalties and incidents. The No. 63 Lamborghini incurred two pit lane speeding violations, while Mapelli was handed a drive-through for spinning the Sky-Tempesta Ferrari around at Bruxelles six hours from the end. FFF also had a right-rear puncture to contend with.

***Inception Racing lost 20 minutes to diagnosing an engine misfire that required the Optimum Motorsport crew to replace the No. 70 McLaren 720S GT3’s coil pack and associated spark plug. Ollie Millroy first noticed the problem five hours into the race, when the British driver felt a “stutter” whilst upshifting on the long straights.

***One of the high-profile Silver class retirements was the No. 107 CMR Bentley Continental GT3, the only car of its type in the field. The French squad’s sole car experienced an engine failure 13 hours in.

***Tim Zimmermann, who took a 50G impact in his Grasser Racing Lamborghini in Thursday’s qualifying session, did not take part in the race as the German was undergoing “some medical checks.” Zimmermann was seen limping in the paddock on Friday.

***Crew members from Herberth Motorsport stepped in to help prepare the No. 16 Lamborghini for Saturday’s 4:30 p.m. race start after an overnight shift from Grasser.

***The BMW M4 GT3 completed demo laps following Friday’s Super Pole, with factory drivers Timo Glock and Jens Klingmann taking turns behind the new-for-2022 car.

***Colin Braun and George Kurtz, who finished sixth in the Pro-Am class in the No. 20 SPS Automotive Performance Mercedes, are expected to expand their international program with a three-race effort in the works for 2022 that will likely add at least one GTWC Europe Endurance Cup round to their schedule in addition to a return to Spa.

***A decision from the FIA on whether the Motorsport Games will go ahead is expected next week, with the event, scheduled for Marseille/Paul Ricard, “complicated at the moment” according to SRO founder and CEO Stephane Ratel, who said all of the pre-event planning has been completed.

“The question mark is: do you change the concept and have more than one car of the same nationality to fill the grid?” he told Sportscar365. “Then it becomes like a normal race but where you paint the car with a flag.”

***A similar situation exists for the FIA GT World Cup in Macau, although Ratel said he’s received significant interest from teams wanting to take part in the event, should it get the green light.

***FFF Racing Team has put its Motorsport Games gold medal defense on standby, according to team principal Andrea Caldarelli, who explained that travel restrictions are making it difficult to arrange the Japanese national entry. Caldarelli also ruled out an FFF appearance in the FIA GT World Cup.

***The next round of the GTWC Europe Endurance Cup season takes place at the Nürburgring on Sep. 3-5, while there is a Sprint Cup round at Brands Hatch in between now and then. The Indianapolis 8 Hour marks round two of the IGTC on Oct. 15-17. Indianapolis 8H tickets are now on sale.

John Dagys contributed to this report.

Daniel Lloyd is a UK-based reporter for Sportscar365, covering the FIA World Endurance Championship, GT World Challenge Europe powered by AWS and the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship, among other series.

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